Complaints about noise down as Quieter Construction Fund is ramped up

SINGAPORE - Complaints about noise dropped from 16,600 in 2013 to 14,900 last year, new figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA) reveal.

One of the reasons for the fall, according to the NEA, is the Quieter Construction Fund (QCF) which will be extended until 2018 and see an increase in its funding cap.

The QCF was introduced two years ago by the NEA to encourage companies to adopt technology and innovative solutions to reduce the impact of construction noise.

Since its inception, 41 applications have been approved to receive grants totalling more than $1.3 million. It has also helped in reducing the number of violations of permissible noise limits from 483 cases in 2013 to 330 last year.

The enhancement of the fund will benefit companies purchasing more expensive equipment such as the silent piler which costs about $750,000 - around $550,000 more than conventional ones.

"The QCF is one of the components that has led to the drop [in feedback and violations]," said Mr Fong Peng Keong, National Environment Agency (NEA) director of pollution control department. "If you are on a site where a contractor has applied for QCF and has already put in place solutions, you will experience a drastic drop and feel that the noise level has improved."

From next month, the funding cap of the purchase of quieter equipment will be raised from a maximum of $50,000 to $150,000 per item of equipment.

The average grant given to date is $32,000.

NEA chief executive Mr Ronnie Tay added: "We are aware that the costs of quieter construction technology and noise mitigating measures have remained high and the industry welcomes more funding assistance."

Applicants must show that the nose mitigating performance of the equipment meets performance requirements in order to be eligible.

About half of the approved applications were for the use of perimeter noise barriers .

MA Builders attracted more than 20 complaints and a fine from authorities while working on a private residential development in Jurong in 2013.

Since successfully applying for a $40,000 QCF grant to buy an $80,000 noise control barrier system, which it has implemented at its new River Valley construction site, it has received less than 10 complaints and had no legal noise violations.

"It's almost impossible to meet the limits in residential areas where our construction site is only 30m away from other buildings," said manager Mr Kent Ang. "The QCF complements productivity because work will not be stopped for noise violations and there will be no monetary loss through fines as well. More importantly, it helps us fulfil our corporate social responsibility as the community will definitely better off."

domteojy@sph.com.sg